Chris Greenacre has resisted overtures from the new Auckland expansion franchise to re-sign with the Wellington Phoenix.
The club icon, who has been with the Phoenix since 2009, has committed to another two years as head coach of the men’s reserves, a position he has held since November 2021.
Greenacre is one of a select few coaches in New Zealand with a pro coaching licence and was an obvious target of the Auckland club given his knowledge of Aotearoa’s leading young footballers.
He’s relieved to be able to end the speculation about his coaching future.
“It was important for me to explore some other avenues because I’ve been at the Phoenix for so long and I’ve become part of the furniture here,” Greenacre said.
“The club were really supportive of me and I have huge respect for them for that.
“I’m not someone that likes a lot of change, but it’s something that I needed to explore for me and my family.
“At this moment it wasn’t the right move for me.
“I’ve made a life here. My wife’s here and my daughter’s here so it would have been difficult to leave Wellington.”
The popular Englishman scored 19 goals in 84 appearances for the Phoenix from 2009 to 2012, before serving as an assistant coach under Ricki Herbert, Ernie Merrick, Mark Rudan and Ufuk Talay, as well as a caretaker coach on three occasions.
He has relished being the head coach of the men’s reserves for the past two years, leading the team to third and second place finishes in the Central League.
“I’ve needed this role for a long time. I think I’ve come to a crossroads in my coaching career where I need to be in control of my own destiny.
“I’ve thrived over the last couple of years. I had some fantastic support from the coaches I’ve worked under, the first team staff and the staff that are around me at the academy.”
Chris Greenacre will combine his reserve team commitments with his new position as head coach of the New Zealand U-20 men’s team.
“The opportunity to be the head coach of the reserves for another couple of years and also have the opportunity to take the national team are two things that don’t come around very often.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with some terrific players and terrific staff on both sides of the fence.
“I don’t think there’s anyone better qualified right now. I’m on the grass every day with the players of that age-group so I think I’m perfectly placed to take the next generation forward.
“The chance for to me tie two entities together is something that is quite unique and there are probably not many jobs in the world like it so I’m very privileged to have this opportunity.
“It’s an exciting time and it’s the right move for me right now.”
Greenacre has been part of the New Zealand U-20 coaching staff previously and was one of Darren Bazeley’s assistants at the Olympic qualifying tournament last year.
“It was a really good experience to be involved in the qualifying campaign in September.
“The support that I’ve had from the national team set-up has been amazing.”
Wellington Phoenix director of football Shaun Gill has hailed Greenacre’s reappointment.
“As well as being a great bloke, Greeny is one of the best coaches in New Zealand and we are thrilled he is staying on for another two years at the Phoenix.
“He has done a fantastic job helping develop the next generation of Nix footballers, several of whom have graduated to the men’s first team squad this year.
“It’s understandable Greeny wanted to look at what else was on offer outside of the club, but we are delighted he’s decided to still call Wellington home.
“We’d also like to congratulate him on his appointment as head coach of the New Zealand U-20 men’s team.
“No one in Aotearoa right now has better knowledge of players in that age-group and we believe he is the perfect person for the role.”